Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fighting for the Faith compares Driscoll on Xerxes to Driscoll on the Mars Hill bus

Or, as Chris Rosebrough asserts more bluntly, Mark Driscoll needs to repent of being a leader like King Xerxes.

Whether members or leaders of Mars Hill can concede that such a point is possible or conceivable remains to be seen. Not that many people from the original group of people who founded Mars Hill may even be left.  There may not be many people left within Mars Hill who even remember what the 2007 firings were about or what they mean.  One of the most significant obstacles for current Mars Hill members in considering that Rosebrough may have a valid point is that they do not have much by way of the history of Mars Hill prior to about 2009.  Today's average Mars Hill member will have never heard of Mike Gunn or Lief Moi or even have heard much of anything about the 2007 firings.  They won't be in a position to read the story of "Amy" for about thirty seconds and have a pretty good idea who she is.  As for the 2007 firings here would be a good place to start.

If Mars Hill members want to defend the legitimacy of what was said and done by Mars Hill executive elders in the past they should educate themselves on what those words and actions were.  They should ask who Mike Gunn and Lief Moi are, what role those men played in co-founding Mars Hill with Mark Driscoll and why there's no mention of either man now.  Questions should be raised about by-laws compliance in 2007 not only with respect to the firings of Meyer and Petry but on the subjects of Tim Beltz' installation as an executive elder in October 2007; the bid on and purchase of Tabella as the real estate that would become Mars Hill Downtown; and the disparity between the salary and work situations of Bill Clem and Lief Moi during the 2007 firing period.  Members should be aware if they aren't already about all of these things and elders should have some consideration of the roles they played in agreeing with what Scott Thomas and the EIT presented as credible grounds for the firing of Meyer and Petry.  Did anyone contact Petry during the trial?  Given what Scott Thomas told Petry and what Scott Thomas said to a member about the nature of the "conciliatory process" during that same period have Mars Hill members been told the truth about the nature of what was happening in the 2007 firings?  

These are not matters for private reconciliation meetings but for public discussion now that the information has been made accessible to the public.  For that matter that Scott Thomas took a job as Pastor of Pastoral Development at the Journey without, it seems, having resigned his membership at Mars Hill in violation of one of the clearest and most unequivocal prohibitions in the Mars Hill member covenant might be of concern to Mars Hill. In a year in which Andrew's disciplinary case made the news because he confessed to fornicating it matters that Andrew's breach of the member covenant seems to have been treated one way while Scott Thomas taking a job that would seem to have breached his then current Mars Hill membership was treated in another way.  You can go read Matthew Paul Turner's blog for Andrew's story. While anonymous advocates of Mars Hill have actually implied Andrew gave his girlfriend a venereal disease and while advocates for Mars Hill have demonstrated a willingness to trot out arrests of former elders to defend Mars Hill as an institution Mars Hill advocates have wanted to keep things "private" when disciplinary procedures and the question of competence or good will in pastoral counseling or discipline threatens to become a public concern.  For a more detailed consideration of those issues look up posts here tagged a context for a call.

The problem here is that there's absolutely no certainty Andrew's ex-girlfriend hasn't lied about things herself or that Mars Hill members have assurance of truthful statements from either Andrew or his by now ex-girlfriend.  It's easy to say the first side seems right until the cross examination but the second side is not necessarily right, either.  You can't be sure that Andrew's ex-girlfriend has been any more truthful than Andrew has been.  What if Andrew's ex-girlfriend has had a history of lying about her sexual history to somehow bolster her reputation?  If that were the case (and we can't be 100% sure anyway) it's as likely she had an incentive to lie as Andrew is said to have had.  If the letter from Pastor XXXX hadn't been posted to The City this might have been moot (and the four X's narrow down the number of possibilities to whomever "may" have had a four-letter first name who was still a biblical living pastor in late 2011 at Mars Hill Ballard, unless the four X's don't mean anything about the length of a first name. 

One thing we can be relatively sure about, whoever that biblical living pastor was wasn't James Noriega who wasn't employed by Mars Hill during the months when the Andrew situation blew up into a church disciplinary case.  Noriega's star was on the rise during the period in which the 2007 firings took place and Noriega and Clem played a role attested by Mark Driscoll in the acquisition of Mars Hill West Seattle.  Driscoll as yet has not discussed Noriega at all or whether any questions arose about whether Noriega's second marriage and history of felonies might have caused the elders to have reservations about his qualification for eldership at Mars Hill in 2006.  Driscoll did, however, discuss the role Noriega and Clem played in getting for Mars Hill a piece of real estate Driscoll had wanted for the church for a decade. 

Why do these things matter? Because how elder candidates were vetted, by whom, what questions were raised about elder qualification and what connections elder vetting may have had to real estate acquisitions by Mars Hill matter.  If Tim Beltz did not qualify to be an executive elder under the pre-November 2007 by-laws when he was installed as executive elder in October 2007 and he was also known to be attending Mars Hill and simultaneously Chief Operations Officer at CRISTA Ministries when Schirmer Auditorium was lined up rent-free for Mars Hill to use that invites a question about who arranged for that rent-free deal and what role, if any, Beltz may have had in that process.  Yet for the firings in 2007 Scott Thomas explained that the firings would be done in conformity to the by-laws.  What about executive elder installments in 2007?  What about the purchase of Tabella?  Were those done in compliance with the by-laws of the time as well?  Again, these are not matters to be clarified in some "private" meeting working toward "reconciliation".  This is stuff that is on record and accessible to the public now.  The pre-November 2007 by-laws indicating how Mars Hill was to be governed are publicly available and that is why this ... 

Is deeply problematic.  What Mars Hill chose to say about the governance of the church in 2007 is so easily disproven it's disappointing that Mars Hill leadership directly or indirectly has been willing to promote things that are false such as the dubious claim that all 20 elders had to agree on everything for things to get done.

The old by-laws that were sent to MH with the 145 document so easily disprove this assertion that it's absurd to think that MH leadership could even imagine that the claim that all 20 elders had to agree on everything could be sustainable. If you aren't aware of what the old by-laws actually prescribed then there's a discussion of the relevant by-laws articles in the link below.

It's hypocritical of Mars Hill to lament the misinformation that was allegedly circulating about Andrew's disciplinary case early in 2012 when they have presented a patently false claim about the nature of church governance and by-laws in 2007. If Mark Driscoll needs to repent the entire leadership culture of Mars Hill may need to repent for lying to its congregation as to the nature of its own church governance over the last seven years.  For instance, if Noriega was fired and was one of two staff who were let go for "overstepping spiritual authority" who vetted Noriega's candidacy to begin with?  Did Mark Driscoll have in recruiting Clem and Noriega into leadership within Mars Hill?  What role did Clem and Noriega being at a church plant with real estate Mark Driscoll had wanted for ten years play, if any, in Driscoll's interest in adding Clem and Noriega to leadership at Mars Hill?  If Driscoll vouched for Noriega was Driscoll aware of Noriega's felonies in addition to a recent second marriage? Wasn't Mark Driscoll church planting scout for Acts 29 in 2002 when Bill Clem planted Doxa?  On what grounds was it justified to give co-founding elder Lief Moi a nearly 40 percent salary cut while Clem was given a full salary and the liberty to not show up to do any work for months at a time during the period when Driscoll was saying at a Q&A in early 2008 that some guys had to be fired because they weren't doing their jobs or pulling their weight? Were there at least four executive elders in place in September 2007 when the bid on Tabella was made?  If there weren't the bid didn't comply with the by-laws.  If there were was there 30 days written notice given about the purchase decision to the other elders?

Again, these are not points to be discussed in private but are matters that can be observed from records made available at Joyful Exiles and through local mainstream media coverage like the Seattle Times and the Seattle P-I and even Mark Driscoll's own public teaching.  That Driscoll's team has been selectively excising incriminating anecdotes from "The Man" has already been established here.  The trouble is that it's too late to remove the most incriminating things Driscoll has said.  Setting up a massive information suppression project to preclude the possibility that outsiders could identify which pastor at Mars Hill Ballard was the father/stepfather of Andrew's ex-girlfriend is understandable but makes it part and parcel of a larger information suppression campaign on the part of advocates for Mars Hill in general and Mark Driscoll in particular.  It has been the custom to say that if you really understand Mark's heart you'd see he's a good guy.  Mars Hill leaders have said they have nothing to hid, particularly during the 2007 firings but if that's the case what has been going on with removing the woodchipper anecdote from "The Man"?  What was with the emergence of "There's a pile of dead bodies ... "?  Does Mark Driscoll plan to ever even acknowledge that he said that?  

Chris Rosebrough has provided a general overview that Mark Driscoll needs to repent.  Listeners will hear Rosebrough's case against Mark Driscoll using vision-casting theology as a basis for pastoral decisions and authority.  Listeners will understandably wonder about other things.  If Mark Driscoll needs to repent of abusing spiritual authority or throwing people under the bus what's that referring to?  Who has been thrown under the bus? Why? I've atempted to provide the beginnings of information and documents that listeners to Fighting for the Faith may consult in the attempt to find more detailed answers.  


Rebecca Kvenvolden said...

The culture at Mars Hill, as of March when we left, is such that you don't ASK questions. You "submit to authority" or leave. We are in an interesting position as we attended way back in 2000, when they were at laurelhurst and then when they went downtown, and we ended up leaving just because of distance and stuff, mostly. We started attending again in jan of 2011-March 2012. one of the catalysts for us to leave was the creepy "this is mars hill" documentary that was church for a couple weeks. It made virtually no mention of Mike Dunn, Leif Moi or any of the others who had controversially left. We had been wondering what had happened to Lief since he was my favorite of the preaching pastors back when other pastors preached. Overall it was the complete inabilty to even ASK questions about the leadership that made us think that there was no way we could sign an extremely detailed, yet vague membership contract when we just plain didn't trust the leadership. It was hard leaving and we lost all but one of our friends. MH had become our ENTIRE life- it was gone in an instant and was horrible. I now can look more clearly at the situation and see things I didn't see before, and the primary thing I see is NO ONE asking questions- People obviously seeing ridiculously alarming things such as this- and saying and doing NOTHING. Its like the Hotel California. (I say, tongue in cheek, but this is serious!) Keep it up! I know so many people who when the Holy Spirit shows them what's going on here are going to be absolutely devastated, or worse, feel forced to ignore it! the sooner the better, the less people sucked in, the better.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

There's been such a revolving door within the leadership set and the masses that most people seem to come in and imagine that they're the hot stuff and that people who left before had to have just had some big character flaw. I think for any of us who were there a long time we were ALL suckered into this mentality. We thought it was all about Jesus and thought that sincerely when it may in the end turn out to have been all about MARKeting.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

and marketing markulinity as the essence of masculinity, while I'm indulging in puns.

Paul said...

"By 2007, the church...still had the same governance structure that required more than 20 elders to vote in 100% agreement on everything."

Not a true statement.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

yeah, that's the second part that's false. It's not just false that all the elders had to agree on everything, it's ALSO false that by 2007 that the governance in place was the same kind that existed in 1996. I'm not sure if prior to 2005 that Mars Hill even HAD by-laws or a written down governance of any sort.